A group of local people are planning a meeting for this Thursday to try to get some volunteers together to start fixing up the original wooden McNaughton Building on Carleton Street in Moosomin.
Some work has already been done in preparing the building, including some preliminary pre-stabilizing work and removing excess material from inside the building.
The group has had offers of I-beams to help stabilize the building and prepare to move it, and the town is looking into taking ownership of the building temporarily to allow it to be stabilized and moved to a new location.
Council will vote on a motion this Wednesday to take temporary ownership of the building.
The building has provincial heritage designation and the owner of the land on which it sits would like it moved.
Where it would be moved to is an open question, but the group is speaking with CP Rail about securing some railway-owned land on South Front Street.
The proposed location would be near the stone and brick McNaughton building that was built in stages between 1886 and 1890 to replace the original wooden store.
The wooden building that now sits on skids on Carleton Street was built in 1882, and is the oldest commercial structure in what is now Saskatchewan.
The McNaugton store began in the summer of 1882, as soon as the CP rail arrived in Moosomin.
The store began operating out of a tent, then the wooden building was built as a general store.
The stone portion of the McNaughton Building was built in 1886 to replace the wooden building. In 1890 a brick addition was added to the building and the wooden building was moved across the street and used as McNaughton’s plumbing and heating department.
The McNaughton store grew to be a wholesale supplier for much of southeast Saskatchewan, and the business operated until 1956.
Neil Russell, a member of the group seeking to save the McNaughton Building, said the group is coming up with a plan, but needs volunteers to help with the project.
“The big reason we’re holding this meeting is we want to start generating interest, and we need some people to come out and give us a hand.
“We want to form a committee and start on the project of getting this building back in its original shape.
“We’re looking for people who are interested in volunteering. We need some people to do the physical work, but we also need people to do the phoning, we need people who can help with the paperwork. We need people from all walks of life who can come together to help make this a reality.
“We have a lot of work to do. We have to get it stabilized first, then we need to move it. We need to do some fundraising. We want to preserve this building and we want to make it into something that’s an attraction for the community. We have a small group now that are willing to work hard on it. I’m going to be fighting tooth and nail to get some funding for that building. We need support from business people, from the public, from the town, and from the province.”
Russell said the town has been working with the committee. “The town has cleared the snow around the building and offered the use of their trucks to clear out the building—they’ve been very helpful,” he said.
Russell said he believes it is important to preserve the building.
“There’s a lot of history behind that building, and we want to let people know a little more about the history at that meeting.
“That was the very first building in town. That’s part of why Moosomin grew like it did. The business in that building started everything. I think that’s something worth preserving.
“When you’re in the building, you get a sense of the history. You would not believe the treads on those stairs. They saw a lot of use over the years.
“If you think of the people who were in the boots that walked up those stairs, it’s pretty amazing.
“It was the very first place of business in Moosomin, so there’s a lot of history there.”
Russell said his preferred location for the building would be on South Front Street, right at the end of Carleton Street.
“We’re working on a place to put it,” he said.
“We have phone calls in to CPR head office out of Calgary. Because the McNaughton store was tied with the railroad—everything they sold came off the CP Rail—we want to put it at the end of the street. It would kind of fit hand-in-hand. The railway and the McNaughton store were the start of Moosomin.”
Russell said he envisions the committee coming together much the same way the Armouries group came together and now own and operate the Armoury building.
“The Armouries committee have done a wonderful job with their building, but their plate’s full, so we have to start something new.
The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 26 in the basement of the town office.
People can access the basement through the back door of the town office.
Anyone who wants to be involved but cannot make it to the meeting can contact Neil Russell at 306-435-3365.
Russell said he can envision the finished product and looks forward to seeing the building restored to its former state.
“I think it’s going to be an awesome project, and what it’s going to look like when it’s done is incredible,” he said.